This week we meet young artist & illustrator, Catherine Warren. Catherine is a Tauranga-based, multimedia artist interested in global issues. Growing older, her focus shifted from the environment and into art. In 2016 she launched a crowd funder through the website Pledgeme to raise funds for her first children’s picture book. Catherine wrote, illustrated and designed the book, A Creature using the broad range of skills adopted throughout her Bachelor of Media Arts. The target was met and Catherine was able to self-publish her first book. In early April 2016 she released A Creature.
For Catherine, art is a way to communicate with people. “It’s a great platform to start a discussion about issues that can otherwise be confronting, or difficult to talk about,” she says. By presenting important, real issues in a form that is somewhat disconnected, we can become more honest about the issues at hand. “Art has a wonderfully interactive relationship with society. Society views and defines art. Art reviews and critiques society. They are easily affected by one another. Art’s honesty keeps society in check and in this way, I think that art plays a significant role in the morality of society.”
When asked to create a speech in primary school she chose to talk about deforestation and the impact it had on animals. This vivacious attitude did not stifle over the years. “I use art as a means to express ideas that are important to me, but I try to create work that doesn’t shout my opinions. It’s great when different people can be challenged and provoked into thinking about an issue – without having to choose between “agreeing” or “disagreeing” with the message of the work.”
Even her work for children aims at celebrating animals without the classic anthropomorphism. A Creature shares Catherine’s appreciation for an animal that contributes greatly to daily life, in a way that does not personify the animal. “The story is a series of poems that form a narrative about a rooster and a flock of chickens. Whilst the book does not place human characteristics upon the creatures, there are several human lessons to be learned from it.”
I ask Catherine about what creativity means to her: “I think being creative is about doing things differently. Whether you’re painting, writing, building, baking – whatever the activity is, you can do it creatively, just by putting your own spin on it; straying from the recipe. To me, creativity and art are not synonymous.”
And we can see this in her body of work, as well as upcoming projects. “I have always thought my practice to be evolving and broad. I have dabbled in all sorts of media, including painting, sculpture and film,” she says, though she is starting to notice linking threads in her practice. “For instance, my palettes are usually bold rather than soft and I tend to prefer big, clean shapes across a frame. I can identify a “style” even between very unrelated works, so I guess I am surprised to see more consistency in my practice than I have previously thought!”
As well as her children’s book, Catherine is enjoying working on several upcoming projects. “I have a few commissions that I have been working on, and I am working on a couple of new books. The commissions have been a refreshing challenge as they are very personal portraits. I’ve found it very rewarding from a technical perspective, working on my accuracy and detail. It has also been satisfying to make work that means a lot to few people.
I am very excited about the books I am working on too. A Creature, my first children’s picture book, was released this time last year and I have been working on the next one since about September. The new book, like A Creature, aims to educate children about nature, without using personification.
Another book that I am devoting my time to is a coffee table book aimed at young women. The book is a humourous and empowering representation of the challenges every woman faces, and the strength in femininity. Feminism is a very important issue to me, and I am finding this project to be incredibly empowering.”
When she is not scribbling in a notepad or covering a canvas (and it’s surroundings) in paint, Catherine enjoys being outdoors, walking, biking and running and spending time with her friends and family. You can learn more about Catherine by visiting her book site: acreature.com